New Delhi: Minority Affairs Minister Salman
Khurshid has said most of the Muslim leaders in the country
are "rootless" and many of them are handpicked by political
parties for their capacity to garner Muslim votes.
"There is a real absence of an organically developed
political Muslim class rooted in the community and organically
related to it... Most Muslim leaders today are, by and large,
rootless and lack organic links with their community. Many of
them are from established political families, handpicked by
various political parties for their ability to garner Muslim
votes," Khurshid told a weekly news magazine in an
Referring to leaders like Maulana Azad and Rafi Ahmad
Kidwai, the minister said they were neither aggressively
dissident nor sycophantic, pliant or excessively dependent on
"Today, we seem to lack such Muslim voices in the
political arena that can articulate Muslim issues without
either being, for at least appearing to be aggressive, or
being supinely dependent on existing political parties,"
Khurshid said while replying to a question about Muslims
suffering from leadership crisis in the country.
Touching on the issue of conservatism among Muslims,
Khurshid, who is a senior Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh
reminded about Khap Panchayats, whose role, has recently come
into criticism over the issue of same gotra marriage and
"We all know about the conservatives among Muslims, but
every community is plagued by conservatives, who refuse
resolutely to recognise that there is a need for reform in
certain attitudes and laws relating to their communities. The
fatwas of the Khap Panchayats are a recent example of the
presence of the arch-conservatives amongst the Hindus right
next door to New Delhi," he said.
Asked about the Muslim organisation, the jammats and
tanzeems, Khurshid said they have never been able to deliver
anything to Muslims and simply "capitalise on their liaison
with Ulema (cleric) and bargain with political parties".
Khurshid took a dig at the opponents of the Sachar
Committee and Rangnath Mishra Commission reports, which
highlighted the backwardness and Muslims and suggested
"The virulent opposition of some non-Muslim forces,
particularly some self-professed secular elements and the
so-called liberal media to any measures for Muslim
empowerment, particularly on the lines of the recommendations
of the Sachar Committee and the Rangnath Mishra Commission,
clearly shows that it is not the Muslim political class but
some among the Hindus, who have an agenda to see that the
Muslims remain backward," he said.
Khurshid`s remark came, when pointed out that it is often
alleged that Muslim leaders or the political class have not
adequately taken up the issues related to economic and
educational empowerment of the Muslims.
The minister, though, refused to comment on the Batla
House encounter citing the Supreme Court judgement, but said,
"...civil society in India does not, in general, believe
the police version about an encounter."